Counter Culture: New Yorkers would feel at home in Dominick’s
Source: The Sacramento Bee
By Allen Pierleoni
Published: Jan. 29, 2010
We were inside Dominick’s New York Pizza & Deli in Folsom, taking in the aroma of pizza bubbling in the stone oven, looking around the spacious, expertly decorated room. We liked what we saw.
“You are absolutely transported into an upscale New York pizzeria-delicatessen,” owner Dominick Bellizzi said on the phone later. On one of our visits, a cook behind the counter was tossing pizza dough high in the air and deftly catching it, a rare sight at local pizzerias. “A family was in here and the kids were saying, ‘Look, Dad, he’s throwing it into the air!’ ” Bellizzi recalled with a chuckle.
On another visit, we spotted an item seen on the menus of very few Italian restaurants: arancini (“little oranges”) or rice balls. Risotto is cooked, seasoned and formed into orange-size balls, then stuffed with meat, cheese and peas, dipped in egg wash, coated with bread crumbs and fried. The dish dates to 10th century Sicily, and we wondered how the arancini made in those days would stack up against these.
We sampled a number of dishes at Dominick’s over recent weeks, including a monstrous pie heavy with mozzarella, spinach, mushrooms, olives and Italian sausage. When we got it home and opened the takeout box, we discovered delicious, thick coins of both mild and spicy meat cut from whole, house-made sausages. It was on another planet compared with the sparse sprinklings of ground sausage usually found on other pizzerias’ pies.
Bellizzi tinkered with his pizza dough recipe and methods of making it for eight months before he was satisfied. The result is a thin crust that’s both chewy and crispy, the kind you fold in half vertically and eat New York-style.
As good as the pie is, the restaurant is much more than a pizzeria. The menu includes appetizers, hot entrees (lasagna, chicken Parmesan), panini, hot and cold hero sandwiches, calzones, pepperoni rolls, complete family dinners (penne Bolognese, shrimp Alfredo) and desserts flown in from New York (crumb cake, black-and-white cookies, a.k.a. “half-moons”).
Pizzas cost $12.95 to $24.95 (they’re also sold by the slice); at the upper end, they’re topped with such goodies as pesto sauce and shrimp, and red and white clam sauces.
Prices for other items go from $3.95 (New York garlic knots) to $58.95 (a complete dinner for eight), but most are in the $7 to $15 range.
One dish of particular note is the stromboli. Pizza dough is covered with ham, salami, pepperoni, provolone and mozzarella, then rolled into a loaf and baked. The loaf is then sliced into big rounds and splashed with marinara sauce. As good as calzone can be, this is better.
About Dominick’s hero sandwiches: They are huge, whether you get a half or a whole. That reflects Bellizzi’s philosophy of restaurateuring: “abbondanza,” he said, which means “abundance” – an appropriate name for this restaurant.
Other things we like about the place: The dishes are from family recipes; the bread is baked daily; pizza toppings are fresh, not frozen; and home delivery in the Folsom area is coming soon.
Bellizzi and his wife, Raquel, landed in Sacramento by way of New Jersey and opened Dominick’s Italian Market & Deli in Granite Bay in 2004. It was so successful that they expanded into the next-door space with Dominick’s Italian Trattoria, which serves heartier fare to a remarkably loyal clientele.
Bellizzi went through a two-month “soft opening” at the Folsom restaurant and recently launched it for real with a blitz of mailers redeemable for slices of pizza.
As you’ll find, this is the real deal – especially with a glass of Peroni draft beer.